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or ceremonious, or ostentatious, or spiritless from their worship.
They believe that no ground can be made holy; and therefore they do not allow the places on which their meeting-houses are built to be consecrated by any human forms.
Their meeting-houses are singularly plain. There is nothing of decoration in the interior of them. They consist of a number of plain long benches with backs to them. There is one elevated seat at the end of these. This seat is for their ministers. It is elevated for no other reason, than that their ministers may be the better heard.
The women occupy one half of these benches, and sit apart from the men. The benches are not intersected by partitions.
Hence there are no distinct pews for the families of the rich, or of such as can afford to pay for them; for, in the first place, the Quakers pay nothing for their seats in their meeting-houses; and in the second, they pay no respect to the outward condition of one another. If they consider themselves when out of doors as all equal to one another in point of privileges, much
more do they abolish all distinctions, when professedly in a place of worship. They sit therefore in their meeting-houses undistinguished with respect to their outward cir
cumstances as the children of the same great Parent, who stand equally in need of his assistance, and as in the sight of Him, who is no respecter of persons, but who made of one blood all the nations of men who dwell on all the face of the earth.
The Quaker-ministers are not distinguishable when in their places of worship by their dress. They wear neither black clothes, nor surplices, nor gowns, nor bands. Jesus Christ, when he preached to the multitude, is not recorded to have put on a dress different from that which he wore on other occasions. Neither do the Quakers believe that ministers of the Church ought, under the new dispensation, to be a separate people, as the Levites were, or to be distinguished on account of their office from other
The Quakers differ from other Christians in the rejection of psalmody, as a service of
* Spiritual officers, such as Elders and Overseers, sit at the upper end of the meeting-house.
the Church. If persons feel themselves so influenced in their private devotions, "that they can sing," as the apostle says, the Spirit and the understanding *,” or can"sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord +;" the Quakers have no objection to this as an act of worship.-But they conceive that music and psalmody, though they might have been adapted to the ceremonial religion of the Jews, are not congenial with the new dispensation that has followed; because this dispensation requires, that all worship should be performed in Spirit and in Truth. It requires that no act of religion should take place, unless the Spirit influences an utterance, and that no words should be used, except they are in unison with the heart. Now this coincidence of spiritual impulse and feeling with this act is not likely to happen, in the opinion of the Quakers, with public psalmody. It is not likely, that all in the congregation will be impelled, in the same moment, to a spiritual song, or that all will be in the state of mind or spirit which the words of the
* 1 Cor. xiv. 15. + Ephes. v. 19.
Psalm describe. Thus, how few will be able to sing truly with David, if the following verse should be brought before them: As the heart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God!" To this it may be added, that where men think about musical harmony, or vocal tunes, in their worship, the amusement of the creature will be so mixed with it, that it cannot be a pure oblation of the Spirit; and that those who think they can please the Divine Being by musical instruments, or the varied modulations of their own voices, must look ́upon him as a being with corporeal organs, sensible, like a man, of fleshly delights,—and not as a Spirit, who can only be pleased with the worship that is in Spirit and in Truth.
The Quakers reject also the consecration and solemnization of particular days and times. As the Jews, when they became Christians, were enjoined by the apostle Paul not to put too great a value upon
days, and months, and times, and years > so the Quakers think it their duty, as Chris
tians, to attend to the same injunction. They never meet upon saints' days, as such, that is, as days demanding the religious assemblings of men, more than others; first, because they conceive this would be giving into popish superstition; and secondly, because these days were originally the appointment of men, and not of God; and no human appointment, they believe, can make one day holier than another.
For the latter reason, also, they do not assemble for worship on those days which their own government, though they are particularly attached to it, appoint as fasts. They are influenced also by another reason in this latter case. They conceive, as religion is of a spiritual nature, and must depend upon the Spirit of God, that true devotion cannot be excited for given purposes, or at a given time. They are influenced again by the consideration, that the real fast is of a dif ferent nature from that required. "Is not this the fast," says Isaiah," that I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the op
* Isaiah lviii. 6, 7.